What does cannabis smoking do to the lungs?
Does smoking cannabis damage your lungs? Is vaping cannabis safer than smoking? These are questions that many cannabis users are interested in. Some cannabis users say that smoking cannabis is not as damaging as smoking tobacco, but is that true or just wishful thinking?
Cannabis and the human lung.
As you breathe in, the muscles around your chest expand the lungs and air rushes in from outside. Inside the lung the air is passes over a large surface area of specialised cells. Oxygen is removed from the incoming air and carried away by the red blood cells into the body. Carbon dioxide is removed from the body and expelled when we breath out. When we smoke or vaporize cannabis, the cannabinoids are absorbed in the blood stream and this produces the blissful stoned ‘high’ from cannabis.
Combustion by-products of cannabis.
When cannabis is burned it releases an array of chemicals. The cannabinoids and terpenes are released and absorbed through the air which our lungs inhale. However, when any organic material is set on fire there are also harmful chemicals produced. These include small particulate matter produced by combustion. Tar, carbon particles (soot), carbon monoxide and complex (and potentially nasty) organic molecules are also absorbed. Over recent years many cannabis users have hoped to persuade themselves that smoking cannabis is not as harmful as smoking tobacco. However, the reality is that smoking cannabis releases many of the same by-products of combustion that are released with tobacco. So is it really safe to smoke cannabis?
Smoking cannabis may not be as harmful as we feared.
Despite the fears associated with smoking cannabis, the American Medical Association has released a report suggesting that the lungs of moderate cannabis smokers may be stronger than those of non smokers. How can that be possible? The full detailed report is here, and involved over 5000 people. But it seems that cannabis in moderate doses allows improved lung capacity and improved air flow rates through the lungs. The study was more of an observation than an explanation. But what makes the study interesting and authoritative is that it took place over 20 years in 4 US cities. It would be very interesting to know exactly why, or how, cannabis smoke seems to be less damaging than tobacco smoke. Does the cannabis oil have a preventative effect on lung disease? Or do the cannabinoids themselves have protective properties? The eventual answers could be useful for medical science in general and especially for lung specialists.
Those interested in this subject may also want to read this study from the American Thoracic Society. The study looked at those that had used cannabis over many years and produced the following conclusion: “In a large cross-section of U.S. adults, cumulative lifetime marijuana use, up to 20 joint-years, is not associated with adverse changes in spirometric measures of lung health”
Vaporizing cannabis v smoking cannabis.
Even though there is evidence that cannabis smoke is less harmful than cigarette smoke, many prefer to avoid combustion all together. Vaporizing cannabis has several important advantages over smoking. When you vaporize cannabis the ground herbs are gently toasted with heat. Usually the temperature for vaping is around 180-200ºC. At this temperature there is no combustion or smoke produced. Instead, only the terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids are released from the herbs in the form of a light misty vapor. When this is inhaled the recreational/medical user gets high in the normal way. But without the smoke and combustion. One other advantage of vaporizing cannabis is that it can be done without any tobacco. Whereas a cannabis joint (or spliff) often contains tobacco.
Is vaporising cannabis healthier than smoking cannabis?
Many modern cannabis users prefer to vaporize cannabis. There is the inherent feeling that vaporizing is healthier than smoking. And it is more discreet. If you smoke a joint outside people can smell it from quite a distance. If you use a vaporizer there is very little aroma to alert nearby people. And definitely no smoke. Vaporizing cannabis allows your cannabis to last 2-3 times longer than smoking. That’s because vaping cannabis is fundamentally more efficient. When you smoke a joint, half of your cannabis disappears in smoke, literally. When you vape cannabis, you use a smaller amount than you would put in a joint. But you get just as high. One other benefit of vaping is the enhanced taste. A vaporizer produces a clear, fresh taste of cannabis without any tobacco smoke to spoil the effect. If you have spent months growing your cannabis, you deserve to enjoy the full flavor, free from the dull taste of burning tobacco.
Cannabis edibles. An alternative to smoking
One other alternative to smoking cannabis is edible cannabis. Some cannabis users love the fact that they can get very high when using edibles, higher than smoking. Not everyone likes cannabis edibles, it can be difficult finding the optimum dose. And getting high takes 1-2 hours from a cannabis edible. Whereas a vaporizer allows you to get high within a few minutes. But in places where cannabis has been legalized, it is worth noting that cannabis edibles always become a popular consumer product.
Dutch Passion vaporizers.
Many people that grow their own cannabis from autoflower seeds or feminized seeds feel that they get the best taste and high from vaping. A vaporizer means that your cannabis lasts longer too. For a home grower that means they don’t need to grow as often, saving both time and money.
If you are interested in switching from smoking to vaping cannabis then please take a look at the Dutch Passion collection of tested and approved vaporizers. Each one has been assessed and tested by the Dutch Passion team. All of them do a great job and come with our highest recommendations.